Menopause. The mere mention of the word can elicit a feeling of dread in some women. However, with the proper information and a good game plan you can go through this next chapter with a better understanding of yourself and a whole lot of grace and dignity.
Menopause is not something that is to be endured but rather can be a period of positive transformation. It is anything but the “beginning of the end.” Many women between the ages of 50 and 65 report they feel the happiest and most fulfilled at this stage of life. In fact, some cultures believe that after women have completed their childbearing years they are positioned at the height of their intellectual and physical powers. Yes!
Here is what is happening from a physiological standpoint…
During menopause the number of ovarian follicles decrease, which is turn causes a reduction in the amount of steroid hormones in the body: estrogen (in the form of estradiol), progesterone and testosterone. The most common symptoms women experience as a result are: hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and vaginal dryness.
Other symptoms can include:
– Urinary issues (leakage, infection, urgency, frequency)
– Vaginal changes (painful intercourse, inflammation, itching, discharge)
– Fatigue, body aches, joint pains, headaches
– Mood swings, depression, anxiety, memory changes, heart palpitations
– Acne, facial hair, hair loss, weight gain
Granted these symptoms don’t sound like anyone’s idea of a good time, but take comfort in the fact that you may not even experience some or many of them. It’s difficult to predict what affect menopause will have on one’s life. Some women sail through it with little or no issues, and others have a more difficult time. Regardless of what you experience there is no need to suffer. There are lots of safe, natural ways to get you feeling better and reduce the impact on your day-to-day life.
Following are a few ways to help reduce potential symptoms and create a more positive experience overall:
Optimize your diet: Increase your consumption of whole foods and reduce your consumption of total fat, sugar, animal fats and simple carbohydrates. Add some legumes and flaxseeds to your diet, which are phyto-estrogenic in nature.
Stay active: Forty minutes of daily, moderate exercise with a focus on weight bearing exercise can make a real difference. Exercise works to reduce the incidence and/or severity of hot flashes, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce blood pressure, increase mood, and increase bone density.
Share the experience: Did you know that over 60 million women are going through menopause in North America alone. Suffice it to say you are not alone, so reach out to other women for support and comfort. It’s cathartic to speak to someone who “gets it” and is walking a similar path. There is a lot of healing in acknowledging your feelings and sharing them in a healthy productive way
Give your body some additional support: B vitamins, essential fatty acids, calcium, zinc and vitamins A, C, D & E all play a key role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stabilizing blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol, improving cognition and supporting the bone nutrient status in the body.
Consider botanical supplementation: There are a number of herbal medicines such as Black Cohosh, Avena Sativa, and Chaste Tree that have been widely used in menopause. The herbs are effective in regulating and supporting hormonal shifts, supporting mood, reducing anxiety/depression and improving cognition.
A final thought…
After years of care-taking and putting others’ needs ahead of your own, take advantage of this next chapter of life to really take care of you. Carve out some time for yourself to do the things you love and that fill you up. Look inward and think about what you want to experience and create. The opportunities are endless and there will never be a better time.